I want to eat like a normal person

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I want to eat like a normal person

“I just want to be able to eat like a normal person,” she said.

I was chatting with a group of moms at the hockey arena (waiting for my daughter to finish her game) and the subject of dieting came up. Of course I was fascinated by what each of them had to say about their frustrations with it all (this is what I do for a living after all). 

They talked about having no time to cook healthy meals, trying desperately to avoid carbs (with minimal success) and feeling regularly sabotaged by a husband who insisted on having chips in the house and ordering pizza three nights a week.

All things I’d experienced first hand!

I asked, “If you could wave a magic wand, what would you make your relationship with food look like?”

They got right into the imaginary exercise! A couple of them said they’d make it so they could eat anything they wanted without gaining weight. One wished to not need to eat food at all. But when another woman said, “I just want to be able to eat like a normal person,” almost every single one of them immediately started nodding in agreement that that’s what they wanted too.

It got me thinking as I drove home that night.

What does that mean? “Eat like a normal person.” On one hand I 100% understood what she was getting at. She meant that she wanted to be someone who was free of the hold that food currently had on her.

She wanted to be one of those people who “forgets to eat” and eats more for fuel than feelings. 

She wanted to feel like she was in control at all times – no matter where she was or whom she was with. She wanted to be free.

But I thought that it was such an interesting choice of words – “normal person.” 

What exactly does a normal person eat? Does this person even exist?

And does that mean she’s currently abnormal?

The phrasing of it really bothered me for some reason. And as I thought more about it as I drove I realized that what I disliked about the statement so much was that it was a backhanded way of saying that there was something wrong with her.

That she wasn’t working properly. That she was lacking or defective in some way.

Or worse, that she was to blame.

That there were “normal people” walking around out there who were strong and organized and successful, but that she wasn’t one of them. She was weak, messy and flawed…failing.

And that makes me crazy.

Because here’s the actual truth – there is nothing abnormal, defective or inadequate about working on your relationship with food. There’s nothing abnormal about starting and stopping. Nothing abnormal about feeling frustrated or like you’re forever going in circles. This is what millions of us are doing.

I want to eat like a normal person

Exploring and improving your relationship with food is a way of exploring and improving your relationship with yourself. It’s a big job that goes way beyond weekly meal prep and carb cravings. At its core it’s about learning to love yourself and feel your feelings. This is not a quest for the weak. 

You are not weak if you’re going back and forth with eating habits, exercise and self-care. You are simply in the middle of a bumpy but oh-so-worthy journey.

Imagine you met someone who was just learning how to play the violin. They might play for you and make a whole lot of mistakes. There might be awkward squeaks and wonky notes. They might have to go back to the beginning of the piece they were playing a few times before they could get on the right track. And this would likely go on for years.

But would you say that they were failing? Would you say they were weak, defective or inadequate?

Would you write them off as someone who will never be able to play the violin?

Would you consider them “abnormal” (“too bad you can’t play the violin like a normal person”)?

No. You’d know that they were learning. You’d know that they were on a path. You’d celebrate them for the things they’d learned so far and you’d look forward to watching them grow, progress and blossom. If they were feeling frustrated you’d likely encourage them to be patient and look back at how far they’d already come.

Working on your relationship with food is no different.

You’re on a path. You’re learning. You may feel like you’re going in circles, but the fact is that you’ve learned, you’ve experimented, you’ve grown, you’ve had ups and downs, but you’re smack dab in the middle of your story. The fact that you’re reading this – that you’ve ever tried anything at all to improve your relationship with food – proves that. 

Just like the violin player, your progress may not be as linear, consistent or quick as you might like, but that is irrelevant to the fact that it is still progress. You are on your way, just like everyone else. And there could not be anything more normal than that.

Sara Best

16 Comments

  1. Deborah Dow on February 26, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Your words encourage, inspire and lead me to believe that there is hope for my story to become one that I will be proud to share.
    Thank you for having the heart to teach. I am becoming aware and proud of my growing ability to control the things that challenge me.
    May your blessings be many and your health enjoyed for many many decades to come. 💜❤

    • Anne on March 4, 2020 at 8:59 am

      I needed your encouragement today. Everyday begins with control. But as the day proceeds I blow it. I will start again with confidence I can do this!

  2. Mary on February 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Thankyou Sara the way you explain it makes perfect sense!

    • Kim Lattin on February 28, 2020 at 5:25 am

      Thank you for this uplifting message. I am in the middle of my journey and I have taken wrong turns and I have hated myself for always giving up, always falling down.

  3. Debbie on February 26, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you Sara for your words of encouragement. My greatest wish, or I should say goal is that I can learn to only use food as fuel for my body, and not fuel for my feelings. I have learned that the only way to reach that goal is to continue to allow myself to feel my feelings and not try to hide them behind food. In other words re wire my brain. When I get bored, go for a walk. If I start feeling guilty about how I parented my boys, talk to one of them ( they see it from a different perspective). Self help and self love is the path to reaching my goal. Thank you for never giving up on me, for continuing to teach me the same thing as many times as it takes for me to hear it. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for being “my person”.
    I’ve never met you, but I love you,
    Debbie❤️

  4. Lorelei on February 27, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    Love the way you framed this Sara-thank you!♥️

  5. Jodi Mrzygut on February 27, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    Oh my! This popped up in my email at an absolutely perfect time. Thank you Sara.

  6. Maureen Cherris on February 27, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Thank You Sara, I feel our attitude going into this has to be of gratitude. I will be okay and learn how to change my brain. If not it’s an uphill battle. Only my thoughts. An ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE. 💖

  7. Martine on February 27, 2020 at 9:23 pm

    Well written and well done ! Thanks so much for sharing. Lots of food for thought — ha ha, pardon the pun. I need to reread it often , be gentle on myself , celebrate my progress and try to enjoy the ride ( there in lies the challenge).
    Thanks and I wish everyone all the best on their journey

  8. Amy on February 28, 2020 at 6:14 am

    Thank you Sara! I really needed to hear this! I relate so much to wanting to eat “normally,” and I loved your analogy about the violin player. It’s so much easier to criticize ourselves rather than to love ourselves!

  9. Anita Robinson on February 28, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    Sara, I really enjoyed this read. It so helps to know that your struggles are all about the learning process. Makes me feel more confident that I can absolutely change. It will not be easy, it may not be quick but is attainable when I consistantly use the tools you are giving us.

  10. Sandi on February 28, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Loved this article .. it’s the truth of my journey

  11. Gina on March 3, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you Sara! I needed those words today!

  12. Lisa on March 4, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Yesterday was my 49th birthday and unfortunately, I am at my heaviest. I decided that I couldn’t use every Monday as my new start date 🙁 so I decided that my birthday was a great day to start working on me. Sort of a present to myself. I even took those awful bathroom, underpants selfies which was way out of my comfort zone. Were there some slip ups yesterday, you bet. But I looked at them as baby steps to what those slip ups could have been. Sara, your post comes at a great time. I need something to help me wrap my head around the struggles we face and how we handle them. We as women are so quick to judge and get down on ourselves and if you are like me, give up.
    I played the clarinet as a child and I remember my Dad saying he’d be in the garage whenever I would get it out at first. I didn’t give up, I would squeak and sound terrible but,I practiced and took lessons and did what I needed to. By the time I was in high school, I was able to play beautiful solos. This gives me a great way to frame it in my mind when I am having those down moments. Thank you so much!!!

  13. Kristen Stone on March 4, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Oh Sara this is what I needed to hear. You are right, Im not sure why I think of learning about my relationship to food is any different than anything else I have learned to do. This is about food and also the anxiety I feel. Big hurdles for me and worth the effort. I deserve to be proud of myself for endeavoring on this challenging journey.

  14. patty burns on March 15, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    I have made that statement more than once in my adult life! But then I look at what I consider to be a “normal person” they are eating twice as much as I am! How do they do it and not gain weight? How do they eat that much and not vomit?! Because they are them and I am me! For the past year I’ve been sitting at the feet of Sara and absorbing all she has to offer; her insights, her knowledge, her encouragement and wit! I AM BETTER FOR IT! I have learned and I have made changes and I have seen a difference in my lifestyle! Have I lost a lot of weight, unfortunately no – or should I say not yet! I’m getting there, it will happen when it happens. Until then, I will stop comparing myself to others and enjoy learning to be me!

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